Do the Bug Walk

Nancy Marie Brown
December 01, 2004
black and white drawing of insects flying

Grant Braught must have spent his childhood in the tall grass zoo, eyeball-to-antenna with grasshoppers and ants. Where else would he have gotten the urge to make a robot walk like a bug?

A graduate student in electrical engineering (the Decisions and Control Systems Lab), Braught, for his Ph.D. research, is teaching a six-legged robot how to hop, crawl, skittle, scoot—however it is bugs go.

As he writes, "Using insect neurophysiology as a guide, a neural architecture for the learning of interleg and intraleg coordination for hexapod locomotion is being developed. Reflex chains and sensory feedback mechanisms from various insects, crustacea, and vertebrates are used as the basis of an artificial nervous system for leg coordination in a hexapod robot."

An insect's "control systems," he reasons, "are created from only primitive building blocks," yet are "robust" and "adaptive." Why, as it were, reinvent the wheel?

Grant Braught won honorable mention in the 1994 Graduate Research Exhibition, Engineering Sciences Division; he is a graduate student in the department of electrical and computer engineering, College of Engineering, University Park, PA 16802; 814-865-7667. His adviser is Stelios C.A. Thomopoulos, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical engineering; 865-3744.

Last Updated December 01, 2004